Tuesday, March 09, 2010

What happens when the nation’s schools are led by the ‘Turnip Taliban’, ‘dinosaurs’ or ‘backwoodsmen’?

There was an article in The Guardian a few days ago which Dan Hannan welcomed as the first serious response to his (and Douglas Carswell’s) thesis on localism expounded in their book The Plan.

There are obvious limitations to ‘bottom-up’ localism which require ‘top-down’ intervention, and Mr Hannan mentions the obvious example of national defence. If one were to ‘localise’ the armed forces, one might soon arrive at a policy of war by referendum: while The Parachute Regiment think Afghanistan to be a good idea, 1st Battalion The Rifles would rather go to Iraq, and The Prince of Wales’ Division decide to opt out of the lot after the intervention of their Commander-in-Chief who suggested that battling against Muslims impinged upon his role as Defender of Faith.

Localism cannot operate where the national interest is concerned.

Of course, what constitutes the common good, what is purely local and what is actually national are determined ultimately by ‘top-down’ centralised government, and they will vary from era to era, invariably spinning on a perpetual carousel of money-wasting fancies and whims.

But that is politics.

Yet the problems which the Conservative Party (or, rather, the Shadow Cabinet and CCHQ) appear to be having with their recidivist and recalcitrant local associations will be as nothing compared to what horrors await us if the ‘Turnip Taliban’, ‘dinosaurs’ or ‘backwoodsmen’ start to run schools.

This is a serious issue.

It is one thing to laud deregulation in education and to liberate headteachers and governors to pay teachers whatever they want and to teach children more or less whatever they see fit.

But local Conservative associations have never had liberty to this extent, and they are judged by the present Conservative Party leadership to be no longer fit for purpose.

Whatever that unwritten, unspoken, uncodified purpose was.

They are considered by the enlightened élite to be so deficient, narrow-minded, sexist, prejudiced and bigoted that they cannot even be trusted to select the right sorts of candidates to represent them in Parliament.

Yet if these groups of undeniably highly-educated, experienced, knowledgeable, discerning, committed and intelligent people cannot be trusted with such an elementary pursuit as recruitment, what makes Michael Gove think that those who will run the nation’s schools will be any less needful of central intervention?

It is one thing to socially engineer the constitution of Parliament in order to give the appearance of representative progress and social diversity. But it is quite another to inflict upon future generations of the nation’s most vulnerable the patriarchal prejudices of a ‘Turnip Taliban’, the prehistoric philosophies of the ‘dinosaurs’ and the unenlightened attitudes of the ‘backwoodsmen’.

It was a Conservative government which introduced the National Curriculum in 1988 and thereby defined a ‘core of knowledge’ which every schoolchild ought to know, without which he or she was deemed unlikely to contribute positively to society or become a properly-functioning adult.

But now the Conservatives want to reform or even abolish it, and leave it to individual headteachers and governors to decide what they believe is appropriate and relevant. If parents like it, the school will prosper and expand. If parents do not approve, they can withdraw their children and spend their ‘vouchers’ elsewhere, leaving the school to ‘fail’ or be taken over by a successful model.

But the National Curriculum is not quite the same as refuse collection.

Notwithstanding that quite a few teachers might like to add it to the refuse.

It is, frankly, absurd that all schools, irrespective of social make-up and mental ability, are obliged to study the same texts, do the same maths, explore the same science and the same history. Try teaching Macbeth or Lord of the Flies to students in a special needs school – to 14-year-olds with the mental age of three – and you will appreciate that the inflexibility of the National Curriculum places grotesque constraints upon educators, and that reform is long overdue.

Interestingly, only Religious Studies is exempt from this ‘top-down’ central diktat, with each area being at liberty to draw on experienced religious leaders and teachers to formulate a ‘local’ syllabus. Thus Bradford and Leicester might teach Christianity and Islam, while Southall is free to teach Christianity and Sikhism.

And in all cases (presently) there is a statutory requirement upon school leaders to provide a compulsory act of collective worship which is ‘wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character’, and to provide Religious Education which gives primacy to the Christian faith in order to reflect the history, traditions and majority make-up of the country. This has been the case since 1944, and no party of any political hue has sought to tamper with this settlement.

Is Michael Gove considering dispensing with this?

He has not said anything on the matter, and Cranmer awaits with bated breath.

But the logic of his ‘bottom-up’ policy is that the Christian foundations of state education will be dispensed with. Unless, of course, a school wishes to keep them.

And Cranmer cannot quite see some of the ‘Turnip Taliban’ (or, more importantly, the unvegetated Taliban) wishing to hold a daily act of collective worship which is ‘broadly Christian’, or giving anything like ‘primacy’ to the Christian faith, because they happen serve another god.

Mr Gove is reported to want children to be able to recite the kings and queens of England and the United Kingdom.

Cranmer has some sympathy with this, and also with his plans to ‘beef up’ history from the present prescriptive vacuity to inculcate a degree of pride in the achievements of Empire and for pupils to be gain inspiration from the accomplishments of such individuals as Winston Churchill.

But it is difficult to ‘localise’ the curriculum without risking the ‘dinosaur’ governors ensuring that science remains hazily thematic rather than studied with academic rigour as distinct disciplines – biology, chemistry and physics; or the ‘backwoodsmen’ teachers espousing that modern foreign languages ought not to be studied at all; or English may be learned in some trendy fashion which has already been tried and tested and found wanting.

If, as Mr Gove avers, the key problem with the National Curriculum is that it was written by educationalist bureaucrats for educationalist bureaucrats, what makes him think that a ‘Turnip Taliban’ will do any better? He might decry the fact that parents are presently ‘locked out by jargon-ridden prose’, but this is as nothing to their being ‘locked out’ by an uncompromising, unaccommodating and utterly inflexible religious ethos.

There may be too much assessment and too many tests, but if this diminishes and decreases, by what means will one assess the damage being done by the ‘dinosaurs’, and how will this be quantified before it is too late for the present generation of schoolchildren?

Presumably, Mr Gove’s response will be ‘Ofsted’, or some new incarnation of this deficient inspection regime.

And this will almost certainly lead to ‘Turnip Taliban’ inspectors assessing ‘Turnip-Taliban’-run schools, for only the Taliban can really grasp and understand the objectives of the Taliban, and if Son-of-Ofsted dared to send in inspectors who did not appreciate the ethos of the Taliban, there will doubtless be cries of ‘racism’, ‘religion-hatred’ or some other phobia or discrimination.

Mr Gove refers to the National Curriculum as ‘a classic example of the Thatcherite contradiction of preaching decentralisation while doing the opposite in practice’. And he accuses New Labour, ‘with its faith in measurability and the evolution of league tables’, of deepening the problem.

His solution is therefore to permit thousands of schools and academies to be able to opt out of it altogether. He believes, given time, that freedom will trump prescription.

What will central government do when a school takes a religio-political view? Will Mr Gove’s ‘New Schools’ be permitted to formulate their own sex education syllabus? Will they be free to teach ‘intelligent design’ in science lessons? Will they be free to dispense with the statutory requirement for a daily act of collective worship that is ‘broadly Christian’ and replace it with something more ‘culturally sensitive’?

We all know, of course, that if the propagated worldview is liberal and ‘left’, Whitehall has done nothing. But if it is deemed to be illiberal and ‘right’, all hell tends to break loose. And Son-of-Ofsted will then be tasked with intervening in these madrassas of the evil forces of conservatism.

The National Curriculum has suited the past 13 years of Labour rule because it has been a useful tool of social engineering: teach a child ‘citizenship’ from the age of 5, and they will grow up to believe that abortions are fine, being gay is cool, experimenting with drugs is natural, and that no authority has any right at all to infringe their opinions, criticise their beliefs, or attempt to impose anything so Neanderthal as a concept of right and wrong or good and evil.

But forget schools.

What will the Conservative Party do when they learn that the ‘Turnip Taliban’, the ‘dinosaurs’ and ‘backwoodsmen’ have taken over local government?

Will Whitehall intervene to halt what they deem to be ‘loony’ policies?

At what point will the Shadow Cabinet or CCHQ realise that the ‘Turnip Taliban’, the ‘dinosaurs’ and ‘backwoodsmen’ are the increasingly-not-so-silent majority?

101 Comments:

Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

Trust the people!

The Conservative Party’s support for the family is being well received by working-class women.

Gove’s policy on parents establishing their own schools is very popular with all middle-class communities. You should see some of the building plans, Your Grace, that they have for their new schools (they are dreams and visions on paper at the moment). The building plans show schools that would not look out of place in novels such as Little Women. They are far from the massive concrete, glass and steel cages which the socialists built for their products of evolutionary theory.

We are sick and tired of the socialists’ bog standard comprehensive that resembles a factory churning out headless chickens wrapped in cellophane; unable to tie a tie knot; unable to respect their school or look upon it with affection and fondness.

How well you say: ‘Localism cannot operate where the national interest is concerned.’

True.

But what is likely to be at stake here? It is not the traditional teaching of history; for all our children need to learn about Kings and Queens; Empire; battles, liberty, security and freedom. For every free-born Briton must be able to understand and ask the questions: where do I come from? Who am I? Where are we going?

Nay. The real question here is about the teaching of Christianity. Let me make this bluntly clear; this nation’s history; its fight for liberty; its securing of justice and its defence of freedom cannot be understood without Christianity. It is in the national interest to for schools to teach a set of moral principles that form the basis of a national consensus so that this divided kingdom may one day be united. No one is suggesting that schools convert pupils to Christianity – that cannot happen – for men are chosen by God and not by men.

On that issue; on the basis of the national interest State intervention is required. Once pupils have been grounded in the Judaeo-Christian moral framework’s eternal standards then let them be free to discuss other religions; evolutionary theory; creation theory; liberalism – and yes moral relativism.

No pupil is qualified to discuss moral relativism until he has mastered the reference-points of moral absolutes. For if he has not done so then he will not be able to grasp what moral relativism is.

And what of the left-Liberals and their children? Let them, I say, establish their own schools. Let us see whose children excel. And once it has been seen: then gain let parents make up their own minds.

9 March 2010 at 09:37  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

And another thing; these new Free Schools (free of the mailed socialist-fist) should be allowed to be established is partnership (if they wish) with private enterprise. Because if the Conservatives don’t allow such partnerships – then these Free Schools will be packed with the children of the middle-classes – and there will be a backlog of working-class parents desperate to take their children out of the bog standard socialist comprehensive.

One Nation conservatism understands the dreams and aspirations of working-class parents: in partnership with private enterprise there should be enough Free Schools for those that want them.

9 March 2010 at 09:58  
Anonymous graham Wood said...

Very good post Mr Singh, but I am not so sure that Mr Gove embraces the "reference-points of moral absolutes" that you (and I) believe in.
You state: "Gove’s policy on parents establishing their own schools is very popular with all middle-class communities." Good as far as it goes, but then what his policy for the state sector?
I have E mailed him, written letters for months now requesting clarification. I asked the simple question:

"Will a future Conservative government REVERSE current government policy of teaching homosexuality to primary school children?"
As the Conservative party has fully endorsed and adopted acceptance of the homosexual ideology for electoral gain, it appears that Gove has no intention of committing himself to a policy of what we might call traditional Christian and family values, and exclusively heterosexual marriage, as the 'norm'.
That anything else should be taught by way of corrupting the minds of innocent children is a horrific prospect.
May I suggest you take a look at the most recent warning from
the site of Christian Concern For Our Nation, or The Christian Institute
Mr Gove is not a very honest man - like his chief.

9 March 2010 at 10:00  
Anonymous Graham Davis said...

Cranmer said

“The National Curriculum has been a useful tool of social engineering: teach a child ‘citizenship’ from the age of 5, and they will grow up to believe that abortions are fine, being gay is cool, experimenting with drugs is natural, and that no authority has any right at all to infringe their opinions, criticise their beliefs, or attempt to impose anything so Neanderthal as a concept of right and wrong or good and evil.”

Herein lays the argument. The state has and always will set the educational agenda. You call this social engineering which is correct to an extent but in identifying the primacy of your conservative/Christian goals that exactly what you are proposing.

Being Gay is not cool; it is often the cause of much unhappiness and because of people like you Cranmer, much unhappiness too. I have Gay friends who are no different from my heterosexual ones except in that one respect. It is not a lifestyle choice. I am a heterosexual man; I cannot change that any more than a Gay man can.

Your concern for our moral wellbeing would be far more credible if it were not based on prejudice and discrimination. You deny the humanity of Gay people simply because of some religious doctrine dreamt up by asexual clerics (or not so asexual if they are left alone with children). You maintain that contraception is “wrong” because human reproduction is a “gift from god” rather than a biological necessity. If there was a god you should be saying how wonderful that he has provided contraception so that millions of unwanted babies are saved from poverty, disease and neglect.

Education should be about enlightenment and enabling our children to achieve their individual potential. Of course we can argue about ways and means but what you propose is always the same old; treat people like children, give them a God and a set of rules and everything will be fine. There are many who agree with your authoritarian sentiments but their Gods have very different ideas and rules and in the case of Islam, are even nastier than your own.

I am pleased to say that the compulsory act of collective worship which is ‘wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character’, is ignored in many (no faith) state schools. Religious education is a valid subject for study as long as it is treated sociological phenomenon, once it becomes the indoctrination of vulnerable children as it is in some faith schools, it is as Dawkins has stated a form of child abuse.

Education must be free from religious interference so that children may learn without prejudice about their own humanity. This does require a total rethink of our educational system. As you point out there are flaws in all the current proposals; the prospect of ordinary people banding together to provide a state funded school fills me with horror, “reality education” where every wannabe has the opportunity to inflict their prejudice on our children is as bad as the heavily proscribed, target driven culture that currently persists.

9 March 2010 at 10:13  
Blogger Miss Jelly bean said...

i'll vote Conservative.. if they abolish tuition fees. :)

9 March 2010 at 10:16  
Anonymous Graham Davis said...

Repeated word! No editing facility! Should have read....

Being Gay is not cool; it is often the cause of much unhappiness and because of people like you Cranmer, much anguish too.

9 March 2010 at 10:25  
Anonymous martin sewell said...

We have to accept that we live in an imperfect world but at least if the imperfection is local, some some will enjoy the option of either changing it or moving somewhere better. Its not entirely "fair" according to some, and it will result in variations but at least there will be some successes.

It is curious that those utterly committed to teaching natural selection, don't like it when it has immediate practical application.

9 March 2010 at 10:36  
Blogger D. Singh said...

And here we have it; the Davis version of national socialism at work in education and in the lives of our children; once more attempting not only to tell that he knows what is best for our children but also using the State to intercept our love for our children.

‘The state has and always will set the educational agenda.’

He begins with an ignorant view of history when it is clear that Christians established schools in this country. What he is really doing is indulging in Marxist revisionism and telling us, at point-blank range, a blatant lie (and maintaining the fiction that education is a closed-shop: parents are excluded).

In the next breath he admits it is ‘social engineering’. The honesty, just for once, is refreshing compared to the stream of Marxist lies tha we have been fed for 13 years.

He tells us another superstition: being homosexual is not a lifestyle choice. The essence of superstition is the reluctance to look for counter-examples (so stated the philosopher Stuart Hampshire): hasbians (former lesbians)!

What he wants to do is impel us to teach, homosexuality, that children are unwanted (so kill them through abortion), have more sex have more abortions, do more killing; his underlying value is this: death preferable to life. His science framed by: four legged animals good; two legged animals bad.

He and his ilk are desperate for our children to remain in their hands.

Let us free our children from their fingers – and leave their children in their hands.

9 March 2010 at 10:54  
Anonymous Graham Davis said...

martin sewell said...
“It is curious that those utterly committed to teaching natural selection, don't like it when it has immediate practical application.”

If you mean me...
I would like to see small scale pilots of many different educational models, natural selection if you like. However the danger of simply using our children as Guinea Pigs I am sure would be as unacceptable to you as it is to me.

9 March 2010 at 10:56  
Blogger Nicodemus said...

"And in all cases (presently) there is a statutory requirement upon school leaders to provide a compulsory act of collective worship which is ‘wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character’, and to provide Religious Education which gives primacy to the Christian faith in order to reflect the history, traditions and majority make-up of the country. This has been the case since 1944, and no party of any political hue has sought to tamper with this settlement."

School can now apply for an opt out - the law has evidently been tampered with. 230 schools have recently applied for an exemption, For example, see:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/6956365/More-than-230-schools-have-ditched-Christian-assemblies.html

9 March 2010 at 10:58  
Anonymous bluedog said...

Mr Graham Davis, close but no cigar.

However I do completely agree with your views about gay men and women. They are not untermentsch or untermadchen but human beings, brothers, sisters, sometimes even fathers and mothers. If you believe gays are inherently evil you know very little of the human condition and have probably never raised a family and probably never will; you lack the compassion to do so successfully.

I also agree that education should be sufficiently enlightened to teach you what to think not how to think. But there are limits, because school is about socialisation, particularly in the case of boys, and society needs rules to function. Why? Because society is the mechanism by which the knowledge and experiences of the dead are transmitted to the unborn by the living. Just as an infant needs to know about behavioural boundaries in the home so a school-child has to learn a moral narrative, in our case it is Christianity. That is a simple historical fact and Christian belief is the basis of British society together with its progeny in the USA and what we can no-longer call the White Dominions.

The atheists and humanists are in perpetual denial of this point. Furthermore they offer no comfort to the individual confronting the inevitability of death. All religions may be a fairy story but they give hope, and in this regard Christianity is the least worst.

Simple test. You're driving at night, the tiyre noise goes silent and you realise that you are driving over black ice. Do you say 'fuck' or "Christ'? If its the later you are probably a Christian.

Your comment 'the prospect of ordinary people banding together to provide a state funded school fills me with horror' is possibly the most patronising and arrogant statement yet published on this website, which is saying something. I think we need the common-sense of the ordinary people more than we need you.

9 March 2010 at 11:01  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Mr Davis:'However the danger of simply using our children as Guinea Pigs I am sure would be as unacceptable to you as it is to me.'

Don't include 'our' children as your children.

You decide what is best for yours and we'll decide what is best for ours.

9 March 2010 at 11:03  
Blogger English Viking said...

Graham Davis,

His Grace can speak for himself, but I don't remember him being an opponent of contraception, unless you consider abortion to be a contraceptive.

Being 'gay' (do you mean buggering men?) is a lifestyle choice, just like murder or hang-gliding.
Those 'priests' you besmirch, you know, the one's that like children; perhaps they were just born with an innate desire for children, and it is entirely natural, and you should have some more respect for a person's sexuality? You see my point now, don't you?

Thought not.

9 March 2010 at 11:10  
Blogger D. Singh said...

The most sinister aspect of Mr Davis’s post is this:

‘Religious education is a valid subject for study as long as it is treated sociological phenomenon, once it becomes the indoctrination of vulnerable children as it is in some faith schools, it is as Dawkins has stated a form of child abuse.’

Let’s read again just to be clear: ‘… a form of child abuse.’

In other words, the ‘argument’ now being advanced is this: you dare to teach your children the foundation of moral principles according to your beliefs – then it becomes a police matter.

That is how far these national socialists are now prepared to go. They are prepared to classify us as: child abusers.

That is why their proper classification, in terms of ideology on this message board is: Nazi.

9 March 2010 at 11:14  
Anonymous It's faith, stupid said...

Graham Davis

Your perverse reasoning is disgusting. You should be ashamed of yourself.

9 March 2010 at 11:19  
Anonymous Graham Davis said...

Mr Singh

You are right of course...

I should have said...

‘Since the second world war the state has set the educational agenda.’. And I do acknowledge the historical significance of Christianity as early providers of education.

As for the rest...

The discussion of contraception, abortion and homosexuality are a tiny part of current educational but to you they dominate all others.

You maybe surprised to learn that I am opposed to abortion in principle as there is usually an alternative namely contraception. As it is impossible to establish a stage when a new life begins other than at conception it is difficult to argue that abortion is not “killing”. I find the argument of viability specious as even a baby at term is not viable without its parents care. However I continue to support the right to abortion because it is sometimes the least worst option. As regards educating our children I would like then to fully understand the reality of the “procedure” and of course be given advice on contraception in order to avoid the necessity for it.

9 March 2010 at 11:23  
Anonymous Graham Davis said...

D Singh said....
“In other words, the ‘argument’ now being advanced is this: you dare to teach your children the foundation of moral principles according to your beliefs – then it becomes a police matter.”

2000 year old myths are not the foundation of moral principles. As I have said previously many of your “principles” should be repugnant to any fair minded person.

9 March 2010 at 11:29  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Mr Davis:

You have suggested we may be child abusers: ''Let’s read again just to be clear: ‘… a form of child abuse.’' and therfeore a matter for the police.

Let the other posters decide what 'should be repugnant to any fair minded person.'

9 March 2010 at 11:33  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Mr Davis

I have questioned your intellectual honesty and integrity before. Now I find your morality perverted:

You stated: ‘As regards educating our children I would like then to fully understand the reality of the “procedure” and of course be given advice on contraception in order to avoid the necessity for it.’

At the risk of repetition: our children are not your children. Your children are not ours.

If you are incapable of advising your children ‘to fully understand the reality of the “procedure”’ and are incapable of giving ‘advice on contraception in order to avoid the necessity for it’’ and wish to relinquish that parental duty to the school then you are at liberty to do so.

We will continue to advise our children that abstinence from sex (until they are married) is 100% safe.

The question that begs an answer is this: how did you produce children?

But of course, your real agenda is to get our children as a captive audience and to teach them your perverted morality.

9 March 2010 at 12:15  
Anonymous Graham Davis said...

Becoming a parent is probably the most important significant responsibility that we face, I am sure we would agree on that. To nurture and care for a child is also the most rewarding experience for most of us. To provide a stable and supportive environment for our children is possible for many of us in the developed world. We can offer them a degree of material comfort and help them develop to their potential.

Our children will absorb our values, just as they learn language, even when they are not overtly stated. When they are very young we may have to be more explicit when one sibling snatches a toy from another for example. When they are older we may discuss specific values like if it is ever right to lie or even take another’s life.

I am content that my children have grown up to be honest, decent, caring people not because we have indoctrinated them with absolutes but because they appreciate the infinite modulations of human connectivity. This may be an imperfect platform on which a human being develops but it enables each of us to develop our own moral compass.

For many who espouse religion this is not enough. They (you) see a child as a vehicle for propagating and maintaining their belief system. All religions have their own ways of indoctrinating children and enrolling them into a faith before they are old enough to reason for themselves. Baptism, circumcision, bar mitzvah are all used as a form of subtle coercion. Some religions like Islam will even sanction the killing of those who wish to leave its dreadful embrace.

Yes this is child abuse of varying degrees; it denies the child the ability to decide for themselves. Children should not be Moslem children or Christian children any more that they should be Maoist children. You do not have a moral right to imprint your prejudiced beliefs on those who are too young to understand. They should not be brainwashed into thinking that a particular sexual preference is sinful or that they will go to hell if they don’t toe the line. They should not be told that only the way of their faith is true and that all who do not follow it are in some way tarnished.

You of course don’t see it like this because you too are the product of religious programming. You think that you are protecting your children from sin and the evil that is all around when all you are doing is filling them with prejudice and in some cases hate and denying them the opportunity to fully develop into rounded if imperfect human beings.

9 March 2010 at 12:54  
Blogger Gnostic said...

The idea of the clueless Cameroons considering anyone other than themselves unfit for purpose is laughable, Your Grace. I can't comment on the state of the so called Turnip Taliban but the Turnips For Brains Taliban that calls itself the Tory leadership is far more dangerous.

9 March 2010 at 13:32  
Anonymous It's faith. stupid said...

Mr Davis

On what basis do you conclude that your "brainwashing" of your children is superior to our "brainwashing" of ours?

9 March 2010 at 13:39  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Graham Davis@12.54pm

Hysterical.

9 March 2010 at 13:42  
Blogger Nephilim Child said...

Your Grace,

For better or worse I would rather parents educated their children according to their own beliefs than be forced into Socialist social engineering experiments and conditioning programme`s.

Will the Cons deliver?

9 March 2010 at 13:46  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Mr Davis states: ‘I am content that my children have grown up to be honest, decent, caring people not because we have indoctrinated them with absolutes but because they appreciate the infinite modulations of human connectivity.’

And yet in the previous paragraph he states: ‘Our children will absorb our values, just as they learn language, even when they are not overtly stated.’

But in order for the Davis children to ‘… appreciate the infinite modulations of human connectivity…’ they need a straight line to understand the modulations in the first place. Their understanding does not arise out of a vacuum.

Davis then writes: ‘This may be an imperfect platform on which a human being develops but it enables each of us to develop our own moral compass.’ What Davis repeated fails to understand is that in order to construct a compass that is moral: it needs a true North. Because if that element of truth is missing – how will his children develop their own moral compass? True North for it to be true North is independent, external and objective to the compass. But if Davis has taught them nothing but a subjective morality how then can his children develop a moral compass? They cannot – for they do not have an independent and objective source for verification.

Again Davis states: ‘All religions have their own ways of indoctrinating children and enrolling them into a faith before they are old enough to reason for themselves.’ He is of course careful to conceal his own indoctrination which he admitted earlier on in his post (‘Our children will absorb our values, just as they learn language, even when they are not overtly stated.’).

Davis says that this is a ‘form of subtle coercion’, ‘child abuse of varying degrees’ and he says, ‘You do not have a moral right to imprint your prejudiced beliefs on those who are too young to understand.’

And yet, like a child abuser who has gained the trust of the victim’s family, he conceals his own indoctrination, ‘Our children will absorb our values, just as they learn language, even when they are not overtly stated.’

He says that we are ‘the product of religious programming.’ But he does not go onto explain why Joesph Pearce a former member of the National Front accepted God into his life (and the remarkable turn around in that man’s life is there for all to see); he is unable to explain why someone like me converted from the soldier’s philosophy of Stoicism to Jesus; he is unable to explain why thousands of Buddhists convert to Christianity in North Korea and are prepared to face being hanged for their faith; he is unable to explain why hundreds of Chinese Christians converted from Maosim and travel to Iran to spread the good news about Jesus whilst being hunted down by the authorities.

He is unable to explain – except to say as perhaps a schoolboy might - they are all ‘the product of religious programming.’

9 March 2010 at 14:08  
Anonymous Graham Davis said...

It's faith. stupid said...
“On what basis do you conclude that your "brainwashing" of your children is superior to our "brainwashing" of ours?”

A good question, although indoctrination is perhaps more accurate that brainwashing.

Of course I do not think that my approach is brainwashing as it contains no dogma, no absolute ideology and no coercion. It is always open to question, in fact questioning is a prerequisite. Good, bad, right, wrong are all relative concepts. Killing is wrong but not in all circumstances, for example if your child was threatened with imminent death by a knife wielding fugitive and you had the opportunity of removing that threat by killing him, most would not say that the act was wrong.

Your faith in absolutes removes from you the ultimate responsibility for your actions. You always defer to a higher authority that has been imprinted on you most likely when you were young.

9 March 2010 at 14:21  
Blogger Jared Gaites said...

D.Singh

I don't know where you get the energy from to argue with these dicks.

9 March 2010 at 14:34  
Anonymous Graham Davis said...

There you go again D Singh, straight lines, true north, all absolutes. You are a seeker of certainty in a world where there is none. So you make them up or at least somebody else did and you subscribe to them.

I maybe dreadfully wrong here but I am guessing that you are not a jazz lover. I am, though regretfully not as a performer. Jazz is dangerous because when the musician is improvising he has no idea where he is going. He has left the comfort of the melody and is on a perilous journey. He maintains an almost uncanny link with fellow musicians and will eventually return to the melody. My advice to you is to tear up the score, you might enjoy it.

9 March 2010 at 14:35  
Anonymous Graham Davis said...

Jared Gaites

A masterful observation, I can’t wait for your next post.

9 March 2010 at 14:39  
Anonymous It's faith, stupid said...

Mr Davis

"Your faith in absolutes removes from you the ultimate responsibility for your actions."

That is illogical. My faith in absolutes means I can establish what my responsibilities are.

"You always defer to a higher authority that has been imprinted on you most likely when you were young."

If you are going to defer to an authority, you should aim high. I prefer my higher authority to your lower one.

I have been agnostic most of my life.

9 March 2010 at 14:41  
Anonymous Graham Davis said...

It's faith, stupid said...

"I have been agnostic most of my life".

What changed your mind?

9 March 2010 at 14:56  
Anonymous It's faith, stupid said...

Graham Davis

God

9 March 2010 at 15:02  
Blogger Anabaptist said...

Actually, Mr Graham Davis, that's not how jazz works at all. It conforms to harmonic rules which are intimately known and understood by performers.

9 March 2010 at 15:05  
Anonymous Graham Davis said...

Two posts I missed earlier

Bluedog said

“The atheists and humanists are in perpetual denial of this point. Furthermore they offer no comfort to the individual confronting the inevitability of death. All religions may be a fairy story but they give hope, and in this regard Christianity is the least worst.”

How does a fairy story offer hope? Can you simply believe something to be true simply because it makes you feel better?


English Viking said

“Those 'priests' you besmirch, you know, the one's that like children; perhaps they were just born with an innate desire for children, and it is entirely natural, and you should have some more respect for a person's sexuality? You see my point now, don't you?”

Two words, consenting and adult

9 March 2010 at 15:08  
Anonymous Graham Davis said...

It's faith, stupid said...

I should have seen that one coming!

9 March 2010 at 15:10  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

Mr Graham Wood's question at 10 am still stands: "Will a future Conservative government REVERSE current government policy of teaching homosexuality to primary school children?"

Please would you kindly extend an invitation to Mr Michael Gove (adverstising it in advance) to engage in a question and answer session?

(Your Grace - they will listen to you and not us 'proles' (beg your pardon Lord Lavendon).)

9 March 2010 at 15:13  
Anonymous P. Burgess said...

Graham,
Your post of 12:54 is spot-on. Every word resonates accuracy with me.

And D.Singh demonstrates the immaturity of thought that the adherence to religion perpetuates; the notion that someone else does the thinking for you in regard to morality. I agree that it leads to a diminishment of personal responsibility.

If you look at the history of the church it changes its stance when things become too anachronistic and out-of-kilter with what is best for humans. I confidently predict that the RCC will change its mind on contraception eventually, but sadly that won't be until all of the poorest countries of the world are seriously overpopulated with 'catholics'.
The Anglicans now permit women into its ranks, and ultimately will permit them to be bishops. In due course it will also permit homosexuals to be priests.

I sense that most of those who contribute to this blog disagree with a number of these changes. So, where is your true north! In fact, your so-called true north is of your own individual invention.

Moral absolutes are relatively easy to define without any religious framework and they tend to be more useful whilst requiring a bit more thought - but is that a bad thing? I use simple touchstones such as the age-old "do as you would be done by", or for trickier issues "what would the world be like if everyone acted this way".

(And as a good case study - just imagine what the world would be like if everyone who was left-leaning or did not believe in god was called a 'Nazi' - it wouldn't be pleasant, would it?)

A good reason to adopt a 'first principles' style of moral code would be that it is more encompassing, it allows for fewer 'loopholes' with which we can falsely comfort ourselves that we've done the right, thing even if when we think a little harder, we would realise that we actually haven't.

It seems clear that Jesus recognised this when he summed-up the ten commandments by telling us to 'love our neighbour as ourselves'. This is a humanist moral principle that most would subscribe to.

The most useful elements of so-called Christian morals are simply those which any well-functioning society would adopt over time without the need for a 'god'. A society that adopts a rather suspect moral code is not likely to survive.

9 March 2010 at 15:42  
Anonymous Graham Davis said...

P. Burgess

It is interesting that you mention Jesus. His teachings so often seem at odds with Christian thinking of today. I can’t imagine him loathing Gays as so many here seem to but then what do I know, I am only a godless heathen!

9 March 2010 at 16:10  
Anonymous not a machine said...

Mr Gove has lit a little bonfire in my heart re education , which is both warm and pleasing .How he takes on this task will be most interesting as clearly one of the most unhelpfull things has been defining schools as on a scale of failing . The scale itself gives politicians and whitehall beaurocrats much to wave papers about .The tories of good headteachers becoming ill through being concientous to the Labour punishment systems , whilst headteachers that do not know what to are left until a better inspection comes along .

The nanny state thinks it is there in the classroom and rest room of teachers every day .I have visited a comprehensive in a labour area and it didnt take me long to see with my own eyes how out of hand childrens behavoir had become (yet this was a school with no ofsted worries). The fact that you could call the restraint team on site told me a lot about how things had changed since I was last in school.

Under Margaret Thatcher we carried on with certain Labour systems insisted upon since the 60s , and we have reached a stage where of physcopathic kids , which I wholely place at Labours responsibility for all of its undermining mind bending and grooming children for a lie of individualty beliefs , which has been a very tragic experiment.

I wish Mr gove well and hope that he finds a way of changing things that stays ofter ofsted have left the premises and is both a teachers and standards advocate and friend .

As for the Dinosaurs and backwoodsmen , being labelled out of touch is a common political ruse to enable a power grab . In the conservatives case I do not have any hard feelings towards David Camerons renewal of the party , most people accept we have an era of spin and superficiality from Blair /Brown , David Cameron is a sort of upgrade .
I think the older members/mps are right to ask some questions , they have been a little innacurate in part because they havent realised the scope of the Labour deceptions .If they can remember a better society and can formulate why it has gone wrong , then it forces the moderns to ask some serious questions about the foundations of there motives and idealogical fitness.

I expect that if the conservatives are elected that it will take many years to put the country right , i would like a neurmberg type trial for Labour , the dinosaurs and backwoodsmen may well have an important and pivotal role in thoroughly examing the Labour scam and enlightening the new intake on a few harsh facts of how labour when it truly had all the power it wanted , ruined a once christian properous law abiding and great country .

9 March 2010 at 17:03  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Graham,
Your post of 12:54 is spot-on. Every word resonates accuracy with me.

Two humanists sitting in dark cells next door to each other whispering 'Block out the sun by scratching the word "Darkness" on the cell wall.'

9 March 2010 at 17:05  
Anonymous It's faith, stupid said...

P. Burgess

It's a good job that we have humanists like you urging us theists to think a little deeper. I am sure that one day we will all grow up and be able to come up with moral absolutes for ourselves. Then we can compare our moral absolutes with yours. I wonder if there will be any differences?

Your advocacy of developing a moral code from "first principles" is spot on. I am sure God would approve.

You say:

"The most useful elements of so-called Christian morals are simply those which any well-functioning society would adopt over time without the need for a 'god'"

Unless, of course, it was the "need for god" that established the Christian morals and well-functioning society in the first place.

"A society that adopts a rather suspect moral code is not likely to survive"

The trouble is it will only find out it had a suspect moral code after it has died out. Let's hope we come up with a good one. Still, we are only one species. There are many others.

9 March 2010 at 17:17  
Anonymous Oswin said...

From whence does the following quotation originate (I hope I have it accurately?) : ''The English education system is like a nubile young virgin, scantily clad, and frequently interfered with!'' ?

Perhaps, these days, it would be better amended ''...like an old slapper...'' but the thought largely remains the same.

9 March 2010 at 17:48  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

Mr Burgess is not a ‘new’ humanist he is an old humanist. He selects the maxim ‘love our neighbour as ourselves.’ He sneaks in under the untrained eye as a humanitarian which is entirely different from a humanist (although both the Christian and the humanist can conduct humanitarian operations).

He does not select the maxim ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ And he offers no justification for making his selection other than ‘What would the world be like if we acted in this way?’

Naturally, cruel men such as Hitler, Stalin and Mao would prefer men like him: for they too would be justified by ‘love our neighbours as ourselves’ - for if they did not love themselves as much as would please Mr Burgess, then they are justified and cannot be condemned for their barbarity - which I am sure Mr Burgess would approve of remaining consistent with his chief principle.

Of course, he can ask the question ‘What would the world be like if we acted in this way?’ because he lives in the luxury of a ‘reasonably’ ordered liberal-democratic society; rather than an anarchic one like Russia. For him it is safe to do so - benefiting from the Judaeo-Christian social capital, or what’s left of it in our society.

Therefore, he is the proud humanist who can attend that racist Mr Mugabe’s Society for the Relief of the Poor on Tuesday night and argue passionately for the relief of the negro, presenting the case as to why he should not be treated like an animal.

Tomorrow evening, Wednesday, he will deliver a lecture at the Mugabe Society for the Advancement of Science, in down-town Harare: where he will prove that the negro is practically a chimpanzee proving evolutionary theory much to the applaud of his fellow traveller, Mr Davis and presumably his children.

9 March 2010 at 18:49  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

Mr Burgess is not a ‘new’ humanist he is an old humanist. He selects the maxim ‘love our neighbour as ourselves.’ He sneaks in under the untrained eye as a humanitarian which is entirely different from a humanist (although both the Christian and the humanist can conduct humanitarian operations).

He does not select the maxim ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ And he offers no justification for making his selection other than ‘What would the world be like if we acted in this way?’

Naturally, cruel men such as Hitler, Stalin and Mao would prefer men like him: for they too would be justified by ‘love our neighbours as ourselves’ - for if they did not love themselves as much as would please Mr Burgess, then they are justified and cannot be condemned for their barbarity - which I am sure Mr Burgess would approve of remaining consistent with his chief principle.

Of course, he can ask the question ‘What would the world be like if we acted in this way?’ because he lives in the luxury of a ‘reasonably’ ordered liberal-democratic society; rather than an anarchic one like Russia. For him it is safe to do so - benefiting from the Judaeo-Christian social capital, or what’s left of it in our society.

Therefore, he is the proud humanist who can attend that racist Mr Mugabe’s Society for the Relief of the Poor on Tuesday night and argue passionately for the relief of the negro, presenting the case as to why he should not be treated like an animal.

Tomorrow evening, Wednesday, he will deliver a lecture at the Mugabe Society for the Advancement of Science, in down-town Harare: where he will prove that the negro is practically a chimpanzee proving evolutionary theory much to the applaud of his fellow traveller, Mr Davis and presumably his children.

9 March 2010 at 18:50  
Blogger D. Singh said...

SPARTANS!

Judaeo-Christians remember the 300 who died defending European civilisation at the 'Hot-Gates'?:

'Stranger who passeth by. Remember us who died, in obedience to Spartan law.'

Remember, Gideons 300 hundred: 'For God and Gideon!'

Remember Lord Cromwell: 'It is not numbers that count, but speed and surprise!'

Remember St Paul who fought with beasts in the amphitheatre at Ephesus?

Galdiator!

Remember King Henry V? 'We happy few, we band of brothers...'?

Remember Churchhill? 'Never have so few...'

The fewer there are of us: the greater share of glory!

9 March 2010 at 19:16  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

D.Singh

Dances with wolves.

9 March 2010 at 19:48  
Anonymous len said...

What is Truth?.Truth is a person , the Lord Jesus Christ the living Word of God.
There is a battle going on today over the Word of God that began in the Garden of Eden – Satan was trying to plant doubt in Eve’s mind, and he is doing the same thing today. Satan wants you to doubt the existence of God. Instead, Satan wants to offer an alternative to the Truth.. There are a number of alternatives he throws at us that have been prevalent since Satan first started temping humankind.

1) One alternative is relativism, a philosophy that claims truth is always changing. Morality is by majority; if everyone says pornographic movies are good, then they simply become good.

2) Another alternative to Scripture is subjectivism, which suggests that something may be true for you but not for me.

3) Another is empiricism, which requires us to measure or test everything for it to be true – if you cannot see God, He must not exist.

4) Satan also pushes existentialism, which argues that the only truth is that which you can experience. The Bible can only become the Word of God if you get an experience from it.

5) Another alternative to the Bible is the philosophy of rationalism, which makes a god of logic. This allows a man to decide what he will deem true or untrue; substituting "Thus saith the man" for "Thus saith the Lord."



All these philosophies have been introduced to cause men and women to be skeptical of God. We have a generation of people who have been told there are no moral absolutes; no fixed standards of right and wrong. And because they have no final authority, they have no compass upon which to make moral decisions. For example, if you ask a Christian, "Is it wrong to steal?" she will say, "Of course it's wrong. God said it's wrong." It's wrong to commit adultery. It's wrong to dishonor your parents. It's wrong to take the Lord's name in vain.

But to a person who has rejected God, who lives without a baseline of truth, those decisions are much tougher. "Perhaps there are times when it's right to steal," they'll argue, "and there is no such thing as committing adultery."

So man today is lost on a sea of deception with no compass aimlessly drifting around too proud to admit he is lost!

9 March 2010 at 19:52  
Anonymous Voyager said...

It used to be that Examination Boards set the National Curriculum, but they too were nationalised by the Thatcher Centralisers

9 March 2010 at 20:02  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Voyager

Let thou be free of the last century.

Men, let him be healed. Arise, Voyager!

9 March 2010 at 20:05  
Anonymous stedmancinques said...

One of my treasured tomes is called 'HMI, the Memoirs of a School Inspector', published in 1902 by a Mr. Kinnersley at the conclusion of a thirty year career as a schools inspector. He was a man of great liberal humanity and Christian principles, devoted to the education and welfare of children who came within his orbit.
One of his observations concerned local School Boards, with whom he had to deal. They consisted, he said, mostly of farmers, whose opinion, if the subject under discussion was a pig, was worth consideration. If, however, the subject under discussion was education, the opinion of the pig was of equal value...

9 March 2010 at 20:35  
Anonymous Unimatrix 1 said...

Resistence is dicking futile!!

9 March 2010 at 21:00  
Anonymous not a machine said...

Len you have been a real light over the past few days , thankyou !

We are indeed being decieved ,attacked at a sensative and fundamental level.The serpent will not own up to cross examination in the garden of eden incident !

9 March 2010 at 23:40  
Anonymous William Wallace said...

Which party introduced all this national curriculum stuff?

Wouldn't have been the Tories, would it?

By the way do not imagine you are going to get away with those Gove nonsense in Scotland.

9 March 2010 at 23:48  
Anonymous Mikec said...

Whilst 'loving thy neighbour as thyself' may be very relevant, it is lost without the first bit, thats right, the bit you leave out 'Hear oh Israel,You shall love [Yehovah] your [Elohim] with all your heart and with all your soul....

In Eden, mankind had a choice, to do things Yehovah's way, or to do things man's way. Mankind has been struggling ever since trying to make it on his own according to his rules, Cain broke Yehovah's rules (which required a blood sacrifice) by offering a grain sacrifice, and he subsequently ended up killing his brother Abel, I would ask people to consider what religion the great murderers of the 20th century belonged to?

Stalin + Lenin + Trotsky = Socialist Athiest
Young Turks (Armenian Genocide) = Socialist Atheist/secular Islam
Hitler = Nationalist Socialist Atheist
Mao = Socialist Atheist
Pol Pot = Socialist Atheist

Get the picture, When the moral compass becomes relative, people start dying in vast numbers.

This, Mr Davis, is why I think your humanist rationalism is dangerous beyond compare, all these serial murderers thought that the end justifies the means, and that they could create a better society without Yehovah.

I would strongly suggest that the Tanach (OT) contains a better form of wisdom than does the slave owner Marx and his 'Capital'. Neo-Darwinism is in its death agony, and Mr Dorkins is now talking about spacemen - what strange, irrational beliefs some people have.....

10 March 2010 at 00:02  
Blogger OurSally said...

Well, I am a jazz musician and an atheist. We jazzers first learn the techniques (practising blues scales till we go blue) and then we set our left-brains free to explore the cosmos.

Atheism is much the same. Though I realised there are no gods (at least for me) very early, I had had the benefit of an Anglican education in a Methodist area. So for me the moral code roughly defined by the ten commandments is set in cast iron. Because I have no god this is non-negotiable; no priest can tell me it's OK to murder because his invisible friend said so.

Since I read Plato etc I realise you don't need the Xtian religion to be nice people. All the same it is embedded in Europe and is a handy way of teaching children how to build and live in a civilised community - if you can't be bothered to do it the hard way by example setting.

The Bible and it is not a nice book at all. Murder, rape, incest, genocide, slavery. Not suitable for children.

10 March 2010 at 07:29  
Anonymous len said...

Our Sally ,

Romans 13:8-10 E

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

This bears repeating as it is the basis of a civilized society.

I can just about bear jazz but I prefer music.

10 March 2010 at 08:22  
Anonymous It's faith, stupid said...

OurSally

"All the same it is embedded in Europe and is a handy way of teaching children how to build and live in a civilised community - if you can't be bothered to do it the hard way by example setting."

Actually, as Jesus has shown, Christianity does "have to be done the hard way by example setting". Otherwise, people like you will naturally assume it is mumbo-jumbo. No one is going to believe anything just because a priest told them so. Why should they?

10 March 2010 at 08:34  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

@Mikec.

Atheism is not a religion.

Atheism is to religion, what not collecting stamps is to hobbies.

Your argument concerning the Dictators are the usual tripe trotted out everytime a religion wants to defend its past evils.

First of all two wrongs don't make a right, just becuase these tools acted in the way they did doesn't mean that relgions are absolved of their crimes and evils over the centuries.

Second, they did not do what they did in the name of religion, so your stance is that of an ad hominem argument (one of the favourite "debating" techniques of the religious). You may as well say that Stalin and Hitler sported moustaches, therefore all people that have moustaches are genocidal meglomaniacs.

10 March 2010 at 10:30  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

Sorry, when I say they did not do what they did in the name of religion, religion was supposed to read atheism.

10 March 2010 at 10:31  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Glovy: you've been told this before: go and look up in the dictionary what 'ad hominem' means - you lazy socialist.

And if you can't or won't look it up then: shut yer gob.

10 March 2010 at 11:16  
Blogger English Viking said...

Mr Davis,.

You compare apples with oranges, deliberately so, as the alternative is to admit fault in your argument.

The question is one of the 'naturalness' of sexuality. Consent between adults is a human construct and totally irrelevant to whether or not a person is born with a sexual identity, and if so, can that identity be changed.

If you avow (as you do) that sexual identity is perfectly natural, innate, instinctive and normal in whatever form, one must concede that paedophilia, coprophilia, necrophilia, etc, etc, is perfectly normal and we must not stigmatise people for the normal, healthy, natural sexual proclivities. I imagine that most people will realise that these activities are neither natural nor healthy, probably because these particular activities have not been the subject of a 40 year propaganda style promotion, unlike homosexuality, and there is still public disgust at these things.

If you wish to argue the point, please stick to that point, and not try and introduce new ones, like consent, because you realise the illogicality of your existing argument.

10 March 2010 at 11:22  
Anonymous Aidan said...

Good Morning,

Has your Grace ever tried teaching Macbeth to 14 year olds in a special needs school?

I have, including to children with profound and multiple learning disabilities, and it was one of the most rewarding projects I have ever had the privelege to be involved with.

The reaction from the kids, who were being taught geuine, interesting, academic material rather than the normal diet of patronising, insulting and babyish rubbish that some people (particularly those who write the curriculum) believe kids with learning disabilities should be taught, was a wonder to behold.

As it was when we did Aristophanes' Frogs, Sophocles' Antigone and Euripides' Bacchae. Teenage boys with learning and behavioural difficulties, written off as unteachable by mainstream schools, enjoyed learning this material because they were not being spoon-fed a watered-down and tedious curriculum of nonsense that treated them like infants and/or idiots.

I would be very interested to see what the response of kids at Eton would be like (or my own alma mater, King's Canterbury) if they were subjected to the sort of material kids at special needs schools are taught; I am fairly sure riot police would need to be called.

What matters when teaching kids with learning disabilities is not what you teach them, but how you teach it. We taught them Classics and Shakespeare in a very different way from the way I was taught them; the job of a good teacher is to make the material accessible to the pupils.

We did not teach it to them because they were all going to get Classics or English degrees; we taught it to them because they have as much of a God-given right to access Classics and Shakespeare as any other children, rather than having to put up with nothing but Janet-and-John type books, and lessons on how to tie their shoe laces. I was priveleged enough to go to a school where Classics is still taught; why should they be denied the same privelege (although it shouldn't have to be a privelege), jsut because they have learning disabilities?

Successive Governments have driven out of state schools the idea that learning subjects such as classics for their own sake, because they are good for mind and soul, is worthwhile, and now the only pupils that can learn such material are those whose parents can pay for their education. As a life-long (all 27 years of it) conservative, I despise that attitude - Classics, Chaucer, Shakespeare and other greats are wonderful to study, regardless of whether you're going to pass exams in them, and this socialist, utilitarian linking of everything taught in schools to exams and jobs is destroying our children's minds.

Children with learning disabilities benefit as much from studying history and literature as any other children, on the rare occasions when they are given the opportunity to do it.

I am sure, from being a long-time reader of your blog, that Your Grace understands that.

best wishes

Aidan

10 March 2010 at 11:50  
Anonymous Mikec said...

I see the atheists continue in their circular arguments.

When an atheist proves to me that 'God' does not exist, then I will accept that atheism is 'not just another religion'. The fact that atheists consider atheism to be a 'religion' of non religion does not change the fact that atheism is based on an unprovable concept; atheism demands a belief that 'nothing' became 'something'.

Yes, people were murdered in the name of religion down through history, but atheists were particularly 'good' at it in the 20th century, even turning it into an industrial process.

I cannot help it that all the mass murderers of the 20th century were atheists. Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned here for those who really want to seek truth.

10 March 2010 at 11:54  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

D.Singh.

I will not "shut my gob", but nor will I reduce myself to replying in your own rude childish manner.

An ad hominem argument, also known as argumentum ad hominem (Latin: "argument toward the person" or "argument against the person"), is an argument which links the validity of a premise to a characteristic or belief of the person advocating the premise.

I suppose you could also argue that I am calling the argument an "Association Fallacy", but this is generally accepted to be another form of ad hominem argument.

e.g.

Stalin was a genocidal megalomaniac.

Stalin was an atheist.

Therefore all atheists must be genocidal megalomanics.

So once again you may as well argue that moustaches make you a genocidal megalomaniac because these people never carried out their attrocities in the name of atheism and to suggest they did is just a red herring of an argument.

@Mikec

There is no circular argument in the way you make out, although I would agree that it is a circular argument since the religious defend their position from a status that is awarded to no other sphere of society giving it an unfair advantage.

But I will take this one step at a time.

"When an atheist proves to me that 'God' does not exist, then I will accept that atheism is 'not just another religion'."

It is the role of the claiment to provide proof of their claims. You claim god exists, the onus is on you to prove your assertion, not the other way around.

If someone claims they are raped, attacked, conned etc the onus is on them to substantiate their claims otherwise people can claim whatever they want and it would have to be treated as the truth (this is where established religions get a free ride and why this will continue to be a circular argument, because you claim a position of truth without evidence to support your claim).

"The fact that atheists consider atheism to be a 'religion' of non religion"

Atheists do not consider atheism to be a religion of non-religion (which makes no sense anyway) atheists consider themselves to have a lack of relgious beliefs.

It is the religious that try to put atheism in the bracket of religion in order to form arguments against its position. But like all religious arguments the foundations are built on sand.

"does not change the fact that atheism is based on an unprovable concept"

As explained before, there is no onus on atheism to prove anything, no positive claims are being made by the atheists, the positive claim is made by the religious.

"atheism demands a belief that 'nothing' became 'something'."

No they don't, I don't know how many times this needs to be explained and how it can be explained in a way you will grasp but I will say it again.

Atheism demands that we do not fill gaps in our knowledge with supernatural beliefs based on what someone said once without any evidence to support it.

If we don't know the answer to something then we are quite happy to put our hands up and say we don't know the answer. When we can provide evidence for our theories then we will say that we have an answer that agrees with the available evidence. If the evidence changes so will our answer.

10 March 2010 at 12:53  
Anonymous Mikec said...

Thank-you Mr Glovner, I think you have just proved my point for me....

10 March 2010 at 13:01  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

No thank-you Mikec, I think you have proved mine by coming back with nothing except the assumption that you are right.

No points, no position, no argument, no evidence.

Just the assumption you are right and no facts can change your belief.

10 March 2010 at 13:07  
Anonymous It's faith, stupid said...

TheGlovner

So atheism makes no claim as to whether the universe was created or not. It is simply a statement of unbelief in a creator.

As such it is immune from argument and utterly pointless.

10 March 2010 at 13:28  
Anonymous No True Scotsman said...

Glovner,

I'm afraid that you cannot escape the association of atheism with Stalin, Mao and others. It was because they were atheists and made a point of it that religion was the enemy, that they embarked on a programme of burning churches, killing priests and sending anyone to the gulags who didn't conform. So the comment does not come under ad hominem. Unless you want to embark on the 'True Scotsman' debate, you as an atheist have to live with your history, just as we who are religious have to live with ours. It sucks, but it's the only way to ensure that history does not repeat itself. Britain is on a dangerous road just now and doesn't realise it; I think personally it's because we have not had tanks in our streets or been occupied in the way that our European neighbours have over the last century and so we have forgotten what the road to repression looks like.

10 March 2010 at 15:20  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

Here is the dictionary definition of atheism:

"Disbelief in or denial of the existence of God or gods."

I would challenge the denial part but generally that is what people consider atheism to be.

So can you please tell me where at any point atheism makes any claims about the creation of the universe? Because I am not aware of them.

"As such it is immune from argument and utterly pointless."

You will have to explain your point.

I don't think it is immune from argument. If evidence can be provided to prove otherwise then it is certainly not immune from argument.

As for it being utterly pointless well I would agree in part. I don't think there needs to really be a definition applied to someone that lacks a belief in gods or the supernatural. Just like I don't think there needs to be a definition for anyone that lacks mythical creatures.

As I have already said, it is not a belief structure, it doesn't define how people act, their guiding morals or any of these such things. It just gives a title to people that lack belief in supernatural entities.

So on that level, yes the term atheist is utterly pointless.

Although it does provide a monicker for another group that the religious can hate hidden under the guise of being good religious followers.

10 March 2010 at 15:28  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

No True Scotsman.

I have to disagree with you.

As pointed out in my previous post (a reply to It's Faith Stupid). I point out that atheism is not a belief structure.

It is a lack of beliefs in the supernatural. Nothing more.

Anything else the religious want to tack on to it is their business but that is all it is.

So being an atheist does not mean that you think all religion should be abolished. It doesn't mean that you think churches should be burned to the ground and priests killed.

It means you lack the beliefs and faith that the religiously minded has.

So atheists don't have to share anything to do with Stalin and the ilk because the only thing we share is our lack of belief in the supernatural, but this is not the cause for these people to do the things they did.

It was for power and self that they did these things, not to forward the belief of atheism, because there is no belief of atheism.

So I still think it falls under an "Association Fallacy" or ad hominem argument, take your pick.

10 March 2010 at 15:36  
Anonymous len said...

I think trying to explain Christianity( the born-again type)not just religious practice type to an unbeliever is almost impossible.
God is a Spirit and trying to explain spiritual realities to the spiritually dead is virtually impossible.
Jesus spoke in parables precisely for this reason.
Until your spirit is brought back to life by the redemptive work of the Holy Spirit this problem will remain.When the Holy Spirit fills the Human spirit it is as the light is suddenly switched on, revelation happens,scripture bursts in to life,truths are revealed.
Until a man starts a search for the truth about God (and in searching assuming that God exists)mans spiritual perception will be blinded.




Adam lived by the breath of life becoming spirit in him. By the spirit he sensed God, knew God's voice, and communed with God. He had a very keen awareness of God. But after his fall his spirit died.

When God spoke to Adam at the first He said, "in the day that you eat of it (the fruit of the tree of good and evil) you shall die" (Gen. 2.17). Adam and Eve nevertheless continued

on for hundreds of years after eating the forbidden fruit. This obviously indicates that the death God foretold was not physical. Adam's death began in his spirit.

What really is death? According to its scientific definition death is "the cessation of communication with environment." Death of the spirit is the cessation of its communication with God. Death of the body is the cutting off of communication between spirit and body. So when we say the spirit is dead it does not imply there is no more spirit; we simply mean the spirit has lost its sensitivity towards God and thus is dead to Him.
God's thought is for the spirit to have the pre-eminence, ruling our soul. But once man turns fleshly his spirit sinks into servitude to the soul. Further degradation follows when man becomes "bodily" (of the body), for the basest body rises to be sovereign. Man has then descended from "spiritcontrol" to "soul-control," and from "soulcontrol" to "bodycontrol." Deeper and deeper he sinks. How pitiful it must be when the flesh gains dominion.

Sin has slain the spirit: spiritual death hence becomes the portion of all, for all are dead in sins and trespasses. Sin has rendered the soul independent: the soulish life is therefore but a selfish and self-willed one. Sin has finally empowered the body: sinful nature accordingly reigns through the body.

10 March 2010 at 18:47  
Anonymous No True Scotsman said...

'So atheists don't have to share anything to do with Stalin and the ilk because the only thing we share is our lack of belief in the supernatural, but this is not the cause for these people to do the things they did.

It was for power and self that they did these things, not to forward the belief of atheism, because there is no belief of atheism.'

I didn't say that atheism was a belief, Glovner. It's not, let's be clear about that. That doesn't mean that being an atheist is a neutral position. It has been a political ideology in Russia and China and the pursuit of that ideology has led to the deaths of millions. Neither are atheists in this country neutral; you can be sacked for wearing a cross or offering to pray for people. The Secular Society handed in a petition against the Pope's visit to Downing St, which is incredibly anal behaviour, even for them. Dawkins is selling Atheist contributors to Haiti T shirts on his website, to show what good people they are. If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck then it probably is a duck. And seriously, you need to acknowledge what happened with Stalin and Mao, because that's what happens when an ideology gets out of hand. We religious know that from experience and so should you.

10 March 2010 at 18:55  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

But an ideology is just another term for a belief.

Ideology: Doctrine, philosophy, body of beliefs or principles belonging to an individual or group;

You admit yourself that atheism is not a belief. It is a lack of a belief.

No I would agree that atheism is not a nuetral position. On one end of the spectrum you have people that have faith/belief in a supernatural being of some kind. In the middle of this scale you have the agnostics that will grant the same level of possibilty to the existence of the supernatural being than the non-existence of the supernatural being. Then on the other far end you have the atheist that has a complete lack of belief or faith in the supernatural being.

On one end of the scale the religious assert there is a supernatural being and make this claim to all other areas of the scale. At the opposite end of the scale the atheist has no belief but must challenge this assertion because it unfairly makes claims on other lives that do not follow the same belief without producing any evidence to support its position.

So yes, atheism is not a neutral position.

It is however a natural position. When you are born you and everyone else are born an atheist, because you lack the belief in a supernatural being, it is not until your parents teach you to believe in their chosen version of supernatural beings that you become religous.

So once again, atheism doesn't tell you to kill priests, atheism doesn't tell you to commit crime, atheism doesn't tell you to burn down churches. But equally athesim doesn't tell you not to do these things. So if you say I must take responsibility for the crimes that these people done because they were atheists then fine. But the crimes they committed were not in the name of atheism or the belief of atheism or the worship of atheism.

So I will take responsibility for their crimes because I am an atheist, becase I have facial hair and because I wear trousers, for all these reasons equally I will accept resonsibility because each are as valid as their position of atheists.

10 March 2010 at 19:51  
Blogger Lakester91 said...

Glovner 15.36
...and yet when any Christian commits an atrocious act, it's because of an innate moral disorder within Christianity? Just because evil is carried out in God's name, does not mean that God himself is evil or even that the religion is (especially when the moral codes contained within scripture and teaching expressly forbid such actions).
The modern atheist despot argument arises from the argument above, as despite both being logically flawed, the latter argument is the logical conclusion of the first. If flawed followers of religious philosophies tarnish faith, then flawed followers of atheist philosophies tarnish atheism. Yes they tarnish the philosophy itself more than atheism, but many atheistic arguments are far too quick to lump Christians, Jews, Muslims and Hindus into a neat wrap.
In fact, when looking at both of the mudslinging arguments, they have a limited validity. If certain moral codes are especially vulnerable to corruption, then they need to be clarified (if misinterpreted) or done away with. Looking back on history, we've managed to build civilisation, culture and technology on the back of the Abrahamic and Hindu faiths/traditions (using the moral code that the irreligious, without reason, consider as independent from God/Religion). The forays into atheist philosophies have always led to self destruction. Nazi-ism collapsed through war; Stalinism collapsed through economy; Maoism has only survived by moving towards limited freedoms (Such as an extremely limited freedom of religion). Interestingly, the downfall of the first two would not have come about nearly so easily without the subtle interventions of the Catholic and Orthodox churches respectively. Though to admit that either had anything to do with anything good would be unthinkable for the fundamentalist atheist.

10 March 2010 at 20:16  
Anonymous No True Scotsman said...

'But the crimes they (atheists) committed were not in the name of atheism or the belief of atheism or the worship of atheism.'


Not in the belief of atheism, not in the worship of atheism but it was certainly in the name of atheism.

I'm taking it as read that by the term 'belief' Glovner, you mean a set of religious beliefs that involve worship of a higher being or attainment of a spiritual state.

However much you would like to conflate them, that is not the same as a political ideology. That is a set of ideas for the better running of the state, but there is no church of Conservatism, no God of Labour and no afterlife for Lib Dems. However, things can be done in the name of a political ideology, and whether you like it or not, the atrocities committed in Russia, China and Germany were done in the name of atheism. It was a set of political ideas that the church was evil, that belief in God was irrational, and that the state should be dominant over all. These match uncannily easily with the oft stated opinions of yourself and others on this blog; Stalin and Mao just took it a bit more seriously than you do.

I agree that a bully does not need an excuse to be a murdering b****, but as Lakester put it so well, if you are not to be held responsible for Stalin and Mao, then it means that the church is not to be held responsible for the Inquisition or the Crusades or the other massive muck ups in our history. So take your pick and that means that we are back at the 'True Scotsman' debate again.

10 March 2010 at 23:53  
Anonymous No True Scotsman said...

For anyone who is wondering what we are wittering on about; here is the No True Scotsman debate

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_true_Scotsman

Not to be confused with True Scotsmen and a lack of underwear..

10 March 2010 at 23:58  
Blogger OurSally said...

Ancient mouldering chestnuts: once again I state that Hitler was a devout Catholic till the day he died - read his books if you don't believe me - and just continued the Christian tradition of persecuting Jews. Stalin, Mao (you forgot Pol Pot) were devout followers of Communism. It is a religion too, it has holy books, saints, and persecutes non-believers.

Love thy neighbour as thyself, "do as you would be done by", that is the way to live a decent life. If you need a deity to help you do this, then that's fine by me, but keep it private.

11 March 2010 at 07:11  
Blogger OurSally said...

Was somebody mean to us jazzers? A bit off-topic, sorry, but I must defend us.

If you like listening to music, imagine how much better it is to play an instrument and make your own, with a group of people you like and understand. And then imagine you stop reading the score and let your heart make its own melodies. Playing jazz is like inspired cooking, so much better than going to the canteen.

Not all jazz is brilliant, or good, or tolerable. But the musicians are enjoying themselves, and it keeps them away from the television.

11 March 2010 at 07:33  
Anonymous len said...

Sorry Our Sally,
I think that was me( being mean) sorry.
I like music ,play guitar but could never get my head round Jazz.But if you enjoy it all the best.
.........................
God and I are One.
His life is mine; my life is his.
My work is his work, and his work my work.”(Amazingly Hitlers words!)






Adolf Hitler’s belief that the mortal and the divine were one and the same, and there was no God to seek other than himself, was influenced by the German philosopher, Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1762–1814). In his multi-volume work by Fichte, Hitler underscored the passage and put an exclamation mark in the margin where Fichte rejected the Holy Trinity and explained instead that the Father was “a natural universal force,” the Son was the “physical embodiment of this force,” and the Holy Spirit was an “expression of the light of reason.” In another location in these writings Fichte asked, “Where did Jesus derive the power that has held his followers for all eternity?” Hitler drew a dark line below the answer: “Through his absolute identification with God.” Believing that he, too, had that “absolute identification with God,” Hitler also highlighted Fichte’s statement, “God and I are One. His life is mine; my life is his. My work is his work, and his work my work.” Hitler was apparently convinced that all of the actions of his life were God at work as him.

We must exercise careful discernment of those who ardently claim, “God and I are One,” for they have often been listening to that spirit who long ago suggested, “You can be as God.”This is the satanic lie offered to eve in the garden of Eden and the lie prevalent in mankind today. It is the foundation of every `ism and works based religion.
As I have said before there is only one God, the God of Abraham ,Isaac and Jacob and we are NOT Him.
....................
Jesus said true believers would be known by their fruit


Spiritual fruit is important, because Jesus said, "You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain" (John 15:16). He is saying, "I want there to be fruit in your life."

But what is this fruit? Galatians 5:22–23 gives us the answer: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. We bear fruit by walking in communion with Jesus, by staying close to Him. And spiritual fruit is a result of that relationship.

11 March 2010 at 08:17  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

Well as I read this morning in the daily papers it turns out I don't need to take any responsibility for Stalin or Hitler.

It seems the popes number one exorcist announced that they were the work of satan, and funnily enough he puts satan as the reason for priests no longer believing in god and a spate of buggery in the catholic church.

Always easier to blame a supernatural entity though rather than shouldering the blame yourself.

Anyways, Not a True Scotsman.

I take your point and I also give thanks for being one of the few people to enter into a reasoned and calm discourse on this site, rather than the usual ranting vitirol of fire, brimstone and hate.

I do however have one issue with the stance you make, you agree that atheism is not a belief.

You assume mostly correct in my usage of the term belief or ideology, but let me explain more fully.

We have established, and I think you agree that atheism doesn't tell you how to think and isn't responsible for the forming of an individual atheists morals. Atheism only requires that the "follower" lacks a belief in the supernatural.

This is why I do not lump atheism in with a belief or ideology.

Religion (I should maybe confirm that I mean organised religion) however is not just the belief and worship in a supreme supernatural being. Orgainsed religion is a set of belief or ideology that tells the followers how to think and act.

They indoctrinate their followers to hold ideals such as to hate other religions, to hate homosexuals, to vote in the interests of that organised religion, to hate those that have sex outside marriage. I will admit that they also indocrtinate their followers to show good traits as well, but how you get to the end result as well as the actual end result is important.

Now I appreciate that a lot of people do not follow or hold all the more extreme views of the church but that doesn't change the fact that organised religion tells its followers how to believe and what to believe. The end result is that anything bad that is done by the followers of an organised religion is done in the name of the organised religion.

Private religion is a completely different matter.

Now back to the whole Mao, Stalin issue. As I pointed out before these people were megalomanics, they craved power and control. I concede they were atheists. However the real issue is that if they seek the power and control they are after they need to fight against and remove anyone or anything else that has any power that can oppose them. What else exerted power over their followers? Organised religion, so removing religion from the political horizon was a requirement for them to achieve the power and control they craved, not as a way of furthering the cause of atheism.

As I stated before there is no cause for atheism, it isn't even a word that is required to exist. It is becuase of the unfair status of fact/truth awarded to religious beliefs without the requirement of supporting evidence that creates the need for a word like athiesm.

Just like we don't have words for people that don't believe in all manner of unprovable things.

But by applying the term atheist to someone it allows the religious followers to lump all people of no religion in one bracket and put the shortcomings of each individual on the responsibility of the whole, so attacking the position of atheism.

11 March 2010 at 09:28  
Anonymous No True Scotsman said...

Glovner,

Thanks for the debate. I'm going to finish off here I think.
Whether you like it or not, Stalin created an ideology out of atheism. I agree he did it because he saw the church as an alternative authority to himself and therefore a possible source of dissent. (I often wonder what would have happened if he had left the church alone, as I wonder what would have happened with Germany if Hitler had not persecuted the Jews, but it's a moot point.)The point is, he did it. He indoctrinated it and he destroyed the churches and their followers. Now the same thing is starting to happen here, for the same reasons, that is that politicians dislike an alternative power base to themselves, and that means that you, Glovner, have a number of choices to make. Do you want people to be sacked for wearing a cross, a simple act of devotion? Do you want people who have a religious faith, to be shut out of public life? Do you want the head of a religious faith banned from visiting Britian, by virtue of the faith that he holds? If you don't, then you as a peace loving hippy atheist you need to get off your backside, go onto the websites of the Secular Society and Dawkins and tell them so. You can't sit on your hands and do nothing, because your way of life, Glovner, is being threatened, and it's being threatened not by us religious, but by those who claim to hold common ground with you. You need to do something about it. And that is why I am asking you to be mindful of Stalin, not because I want to force his guilt on you, but because I want to show you how any idea, religious or not, can be carried to an extreme, and that we all hold responsibility to make sure that that does not happen. As you are an atheist, it's your sonofabitch, and your business to shout them down.

In the end, there is nothing that one human being does, that we cannot find in ourselves somewhere. And that is the point of the No True Scotsman; we can never completely dissociate ourselves from the actions of others. To do so is to deny our humanity. There is nothing in the behaviour of others that is alien to our own nature, no matter how abhorrent and it's only by remembering that, that we can avoid becoming monsters.

11 March 2010 at 14:00  
Anonymous Marta said...

It constantly amuses me to hear
fourth rate so called musicians boast of their atheism.
My Lady Hunsdon's Puffe has eluded them.That's a good thing.

11 March 2010 at 15:13  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sally,

I'm not sure where you get that Hitler considered himself a devout Catholic. Hitler hated the Catholic church with a passion. The reason for this was that when the Nazi party started, the Catholic church forbade its members under pain of excommunication, to join or even vote for the Nazi party. If you did, you could not even be buried on consecrated ground. That is the severest penalty that the church can impose on a member, carrying as it does the spiritual penalty of eternal damnation. Any devout Catholic would do anything to avoid that. It means that those of our faith who did join Hitler became apostates to do that. That doesn't mean that the church can escape responsibility for them; as you correctly say, Hitler tapped into the anti semitism already present to devastating effect. But the official church did do its duty and Pius XII, despite all the lies that are put around about him, did more than any other European leader to save the Jews. There is a memorial forest to him that was planted the year he died, in the Negev desert in the Judean hills. Each tree represents a person that Pius saved. There are 860 000 trees in that forest. The Holocaust was not just a Holocaust for Jews; 3 million of my co -religionists died in the gas chambers, amongst them 50 000 priests and religious. If that doesn't convince you that Hitler hated us, nothing will.

11 March 2010 at 16:20  
Anonymous Septimus said...

A Jew told me once that Jews do not have a monopoly on suffering.
We tend to ignore the millions of non jews who died in the camps and
the insignificant unknown true Christians who were murdered for hiding them.These are our real saints.

12 March 2010 at 01:01  
Blogger mack said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12 March 2010 at 08:10  
Anonymous len said...

Hitler was born in a Catholic, Austrian family. In time Hitler rejected Catholicism and Christianity in large part because of the influence of a fanatical “atheist” by the name of Friedrick Nietzsche. Nietzsche was an influential German philosopher of the 1800’s who saw Christ and Christianity as an abhorrent expression of weakness. A true leader, in Nietzsche’s view, had to be a “Superman,” free from the shackles of religion and ready and willing to use cruelty to achieve power and control over the masses.

“Thus...Nietzsche offered grounds for the reprehensible Nazi ideology of a superior race exercising its will to power as it saw fit. Hitler was living out what Nietzsche had envisioned, trying to prove himself to be the Übermensch and the precursor of the Master race. He despised weakness as much as Nietzsche did and wanted to "transvalue" the current social values into something that supported the aggressive instinct. He wanted to become, as Nietzsche called it, a "lord of the earth."Hitler was also an admirer of Machiavelli and made a study of his book'The Prince'

Thus the two greatest forces that shaped Hitler’s mind and that moulded his proud, arrogant and cruel spirit were both “anti-Christian.” Nietzsche, the major force that shaped Hitler’s unstoppable cruelty, was undeniably an atheist.

13 March 2010 at 01:06  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

There goes the relgiious once again confusing the definition and requirements of atheism.

13 March 2010 at 11:02  
Blogger Lakester91 said...

Glovner,
Yet you still confuse the definition and requirements of faith. If a man kills himself and/or others in the name of God, he has not done it in the name of God (despite what he says), nor in the name of religion; he has done it in the name of a religio-political ideology. Just as no one commits atrocities in the name of 'atheism' as a whole, no one commits such acts in the name of faith or God as a whole.
The claim that religion causes people to kill is akin to saying that politics does the same. It is nonsense because there are so many different political, religious and secular ideologies.
There are plenty of young men who, feeling like they are worth very little in the grand scheme of things, are willing to give their life in the name of a cause. Whether that cause is religious or secular in nature is irrelevant.
I will take two brief examples.
The Crusades were carried out on the Pope's orders in order to retake an area of land that belonged to the Christians and Jews of the area (who were forced out when the Moslems invaded). This was not a religious cause in nature (other than that the two opposing sides happen to be different religions). The Crusaders were like the young men I mentioned above; they had not read the Bible, and they had received little or no religious instruction. They were mercenaries who were simply looking for a cause to kill/die for.
Then we have the Communists of Germany. Just like the fascists, they were young politicised men who were looking for an excuse to fight each other. They were willing to give their (and others) lives for a cause that was greater than themselves. In this case it was an atheistic cause, though it could have just as easily been any other kind of ideology.
To sum up, causes can be Theistic or atheistic. No one kills in the name of God or in the name of atheism; they kill in the name of a theistic or atheistic cause, even if such a cause is completely separated from the morals and ethics of the religion. Therefore the debate is null. No one has a monopoly on atrocious acts; neither atheists nor any religion.

13 March 2010 at 15:30  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

Don't confuse personal religion with organised religion now.

If organised religion instructs its followers to act in a specific way that causes evils then that organised religion is certainly responsible for atrocious acts, and that's the difference between religion (organised) and atheism.

13 March 2010 at 20:07  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Gentlemen

Mr Glovner is a Sophist.

As it is written: 'The fool has said in his heart there is no God.'

13 March 2010 at 20:26  
Blogger D. Singh said...

The key to Mr Glovner is that he worships science. He wants the Judaeo-Christian to prove at the scientific standard of belief that God does exist.

He knows that science only proves that which exists in space and time; for example science can prove two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom combined produces water.

One of the attributes of God is that He is infinite; it follows that the scientific method is useless as an instrument to prove God.

So he asks for the impossible.

However, when he is told he ’has no imagination’ (from the scientific stand-point) - he is clueless. When he is asked to prove if he loves his wife by the scientific method - he asks us to infer from his actions that he love his wife. In other words, he switches from the scientific standard of belief to the balance of probabilities standard of belief; and that is how he not only remains inconsistent but cheats his way through on these message boards in the hope that he will gain respect.

No one ever has come to believe in God on the basis that God has been proved to exist by a scientific experiment.

However, it is true that recently the atheist philosopher Anthony Flew came to believe that God exists by inferring Intelligent Design.

But, for the time being, Mr Glovner is above that and prefers to trawl sites that offer ‘quick arguments against God.’

13 March 2010 at 20:50  
Anonymous Anon said...

No D.Singh,

The key to Glovner is that he doesn't have the confidence to admit that atheists are as capable of organised evil as religious. When he does, we can have a proper debate about what we all actually believe or don't.

13 March 2010 at 22:14  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

"The key to Glovner is that he doesn't have the confidence to admit that atheists are as capable of organised evil as religious. When he does, we can have a proper debate about what we all actually believe or don't."

No, how wrong you are anon. I have admits that atheists are completely capable of "organised evil as relgious".

What I challenge is that it is the fact that they are atheists that is responsible for them carrying out the evils.

Which it clearly isn't, since atheism is not a belief structure and does not instruct it's "adherents" to act in any specific way, unlike organised religions.

So debate away.

And in answer to D.Singh's points.

When you ask something like "prove that you love your wife".

Love is a subjective emotion, what one person what term love wouldn't be how another would, likewise how one person would show the emotion of love wouldn't be how another would.

You will hear of serial killers expressing extreme feelings of love towards their victims, but I certainly wouldn't show my love in this way and neither would most I assume.

So in subjective cases like that it is neccesary to take all the evidence available and weigh this against the overall commonly accepted meaning of love.

Of the wieght of the evidence leans towards the commonly accepted notion of love then you would deem that yes, you do love your wife.

I don't seek special treatment becuase I express my love for my wife, I don't even ask that anyone else believes me, I just want my wife to accept it as she is the only one that matters in this subject.

Now the claim of god is a different thing. It is not claimed as a feeling by the religious followers, an emotion, a subjective intangible thing.

It is expressed by the religious as a fact that should not be challenged. On top of that demands are made for special treatment because of this belief asserted as fact.

Rights that others don't have, powers that others don't have.

Because of these things it should be able to prove itself in order to be treated more favourably than other claims of the same ilk that can provide the same level or truth.

In other words, if you want to believe it yourself, then go right ahead you don't need to prove to me that it is true because that is your business.

However, when you expect others to believe it, when you expect it to be treated in a different way from other claims of the same standard, when you expect special treatment because of it, then you better be damn well prepared to prove its truth in the same way required of everything else in the world otherwise you don't have a leg to stand on.

And please, no more of these nonsense statements of "science can only prove what is of this world" "god is of another plain", or whatever nothing statements you want to trot out to defend your position. The don't say anything. It is just examples of Carl Sagan's "Invisible Dragon in my Garage".

15 March 2010 at 11:07  
Anonymous Anon said...

'What I challenge is that it is the fact that they are atheists that is responsible for them carrying out the evils.

Which it clearly isn't, since atheism is not a belief structure and does not instruct it's "adherents" to act in any specific way, unlike organised religions.'


http://www.secularism.org.uk/campaigns.html


You were saying, Glovner?

15 March 2010 at 16:53  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

I have already said what I had to on the previous subject.

What I would say now is that you don't understand the difference between secularism and atheism.

Now you were saying?

15 March 2010 at 18:18  
Anonymous Anon said...

'What I would say now is that you don't understand the difference between secularism and atheism'

Good point. Explain to me the difference, and then explain to me why the Secular Society is running these campaigns, Glovner.

15 March 2010 at 23:50  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

Secularism is the concept that government or other entities should exist separately from religion and/or religious beliefs.

In one sense, secularism may assert the right to be free from religious rule and teachings, and freedom from the government imposition of religion upon the people, within a state that is neutral on matters of belief. In another sense, it refers to the view that human activities and decisions, especially political ones, should be based on evidence and fact unbiased by religious influence.

The term "secularism" was first used by the British writer George Holyoake in 1851. Although the term was new, the general notions of freethought on which it was based had existed throughout history. In particular, early secular ideas involving the separation of philosophy and religion can be traced back to Ibn Rushd and the Averroism school of philosophy. Holyoake invented the term "secularism" to describe his views of promoting a social order separate from religion, without actively dismissing or criticizing religious belief. An agnostic himself, Holyoake argued that "Secularism is not an argument against Christianity, it is one independent of it. It does not question the pretensions of Christianity; it advances others. Secularism does not say there is no light or guidance elsewhere, but maintains that there is light and guidance in secular truth, whose conditions and sanctions exist independently, and act forever. Secular knowledge is manifestly that kind of knowledge which is founded in this life, which relates to the conduct of this life, conduces to the welfare of this life, and is capable of being tested by the experience of this life."

Atheism is commonly defined as the position that there are no deities. It can also mean the rejection of belief in the existence of deities. A broader definition is simply the absence of belief that any deities exist, which is the form I subscribe to and most atheists I know of. You will find that most of the argument over the definition of atheism actually comes from the religious.

The term atheism originated from the Greek ἄθεος (atheos), meaning "without gods", which was applied with a negative connotation to those thought to reject the gods worshiped by the larger society.

However, still neither of these two things are belief structures in the way that organised religion is.

Secluarism argues for a seperation between organised religion and state, nothing more. Atheism is a lack of belief in any gods, nothing more.

Organised religion is a belief structure which demands its followers through the application of fear how to act and what to think.

16 March 2010 at 09:34  
Anonymous Anon said...

Right.

Now taking your definition of secularism, that church and state should be separate, this is a position that a religious person can take. For example, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O' Connor turned down a seat in the House of Lords because canon law does not allow him to take it. It's not an alien or unacceptable concept to religious folk. But the Secular Society is basically seeking to ban religion from public life altogether. When you are campaigning against religious broadcasting (and there's hardly any on the Beeb; Thought for the Day and Songs of Praise are about it); when you are campaigning against the head of a religion visiting Britain; when you are campaigning against those with religious beliefs having any say in public debate, then you have gone well beyond what is commonly understood as secularism. You have come into militant atheism territory. In short, Glovner, it is the likes of the Secular Society that has secularism and atheism confused, not me. And if you don't believe me, go onto their 'campaign materials' page; you'll find them selling badges saying 'atheist' on them along with 'secularist'. As No True Scotsman said, you are not going to be left in peace to sit on the fence much longer, Glovner; if you don't like militant atheism and don't want to be associated with it, then you need to do something now, not later when it will be too late.

16 March 2010 at 23:50  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

But this is now leaving the confines of the original statements made by you.

I'm not here to argue about the motives of the National Secularist Society.

I will admit that some people can be atheist and secularist. But some people may also be atheist and not secularist and you also get people that are religious and secularist.

My point, the two do not need to be delivered together.

My original statement is that atheism is not a belief structure, and that still stands, nothing you have added refutes that point.

As for militant atheism and all these other buzz words being used these days it is a lot of tripe. Individual people may handle themselves differently but it is not possible to lack belief harder or softer or militant or passive. You just lack belief in any gods that's it. Any more than that is down to the individual, not to the fact that they happen to be an atheist. I feel that militant is a little misleading too however, vocal may be more suited to describing them than militant but using the facts wouldn't create as scary an image for you to promote would it.

And if you want to try lumping them all together and tying them up in a little bow of hate so you can form an argument against them all at once (even though this doesn't hold water when you get into it). Then why don't you stand up against the likes of the West Boro Baptist church for example?

Every group has their nutters. That doesn't make the group nutters though.

You need to straighten out some of your facts as well.

They are not campagining for a head of religion not to come to the UK, what they are asking is that it isn't funded by the tax payer but by the church he represents, seems pretty fair to me, the catholics want to see him, the catholics can pay for him. Tax payers money can be used to benefit everyone instead.

No it is still you that doesn't understand the difference between atheism and secularism, worse than that you make an active attempt to blur the lines between the two in order to try and disparage them both.

17 March 2010 at 09:49  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

I should also point out that it isn't my definition of secularism as you imply.

It is simply the definition of secularism.

17 March 2010 at 09:51  
Blogger Theresa said...

Glovner,

This argument reminds me of Sinn Fein's insistence that they were not the IRA but had 'aims and aspirations in common with the IRA'. Name me anyone you know in the Secular Society that isn't an atheist. As we agreed, the two don't need to be confused, but they now are and you need to do something about it.

17 March 2010 at 12:29  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older